By Jeff Weaver
Even though the calendar says it’s August, and the temperatures on the thermometer are pushing 90-plus, now is the time to get your gear ready for the upcoming Minnesota early goose season. Saturday, Sept. 2 is opening day this year for the early goose season and a few easy, but important, repairs and purchases should be crossed off your check list of things to do before it is actually time to head out to the field.
My number one item that must be looked at is my firearm. In many cases, your gun may have been in the closet in a gun case, or in a gun vault since your last outing last fall. Was it cleaned when you put it away? Have you tried to remove the choke? Can you even remove the choke? Did you use this same firearm for a spring turkey hunt? Have you removed the full turkey choke and replaced it with the appropriate waterfowl choke? When you work the action, does the bolt or the pump action work freely? These are all important questions to be answered. My level of expertise and confidence in gunsmithing are minimal at best. Taking apart my shotgun for a thorough cleaning is as far as I am willing to venture. Having a good relationship with a knowledgeable and trustworthy gunsmith is worth its weight in gold. So, if you have any concerns about your firearm, now is the time to get your firearm in for needed service. There is absolutely nothing more frustrating than having a shotgun which is not working properly when it is time to be in the field.
Decoys and field equipment, like lay out blinds, rank right up there with firearms when it comes to being prepared for the upcoming season. Chances are that the decoys you threw into the truck, or trailer haven’t been moved nor looked at since your last hunting trip a year ago. How about the decoy cord and the weights on your floating decoys? Did the mice over the winter make nests in your decoy bag gnawing on decoy cords or flocked heads? Repairing flocked heads has become a lot easier with the repair kits that available at many of the major outdoor retailers, or by looking online. A simple Google search titled “goose flocking kits” will lead you to many different options such as Avery Outdoors, Fowl Flocker and Aero Outdoors. As for your layout blinds, check the fabric for tears which can be repaired. Tighten all the nuts and bolts which hold tubing and framework together. Also, make sure you have extra fastening clips which are used to hold the moveable doors and flaps in place. These small nuisance problems, which can make or break your outing, should be addressed before its time to head out for the first hunt of the year.
Ammo is another item which is many time overlooked until it’s almost time for opening day. I like to get my ammo early so I actually can find and purchase what I really want to shoot. As for preferences in manufacturer and shot size, I have found, hands down, that Federal Premium Ammunitions Black Cloud shells give me – literally – the biggest bang for the buck. I have found that the increased velocity in many of the loads have allowed me to shoot a smaller shot size at all waterfowl, including geese. It is my preference to shoot almost all season long a 3-inch No.3 shot size shell.
Get out ahead of the crowds who will soon be out getting their supplies for the upcoming season and get your gear inspected and repaired as necessary. It won’t be long and we will all be out doing what we enjoy most – waterfowling!